I am not a doctor nor do I play one on television. Nevertheless, I am willing to give my best guesses as to whether or not certain potential impact players play this week based on the information at hand. This season, the injury report is all the more difficult to comprehend due to the removal of the “probable” designation. Anyhow, here are my takes, accompanied by analysis, surrounding the status of fantasy relevant players’ status for Week 2:
Arian Foster, Dolphins – Unlike some of the names to follow, Arian Foster seems like a pretty safe bet to suit up. There is always an additional bit of worry due to his injury history but he practiced in full on both Thursday and Friday this week with a hamstring injury. His hamstring has given him issues throughout the course of his entire career so this is a situation to monitor moving forward. Even so, he seems safe to deploy this week if confident using him against a defense that allowed the sixth fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs (RBs) last season. UPDATE: Foster is active.
Jonathan Stewart, Panthers – Jonathan Stewart, not to be confused with the former Daily Show host “Jon Stewart,” was added to the injury report on Wednesday with an ankle issue. Like Foster, using the injury report seems to be a bit of posturing by the team, but no one is fooled. All indications from both the player and the coach are Stewart will play this week. The 49ers defense looked swarming last week but they faced the worst QB in the league as opposed to Cam Newton. Amazingly, the Panthers are listed as -13.5 point favorites so the game flow could play perfectly into Stewart’s hands. While not a preferred option, using him to differentiate from the pack makes some sense in GPPs.
Chris Ivory, Jaguars – After being sent to the hospital before last week’s game with what is being called an “illness.” Chris Ivory has been ruled out of Week 2 as well. Strangely, Ivory declared himself ready to go on Thursday but apparently something changed or coaching staff decided against him because the team didn’t even leave a slight bit of doubt about his status. Therefore, T.J. Yeldon will take over the lion’s share of the carries against one of the worst rushing defenses from a year ago. Only three teams (49ers, Falcons, Lions) allowed more rushing touchdowns (TDs) to opposing backs and only three teams (Dolphins, 49ers, Saints) allowed more fantasy points to the position overall. At just $9,200, Yeldon should be locked and loaded into all cash game lineups.
Spencer Ware/Jamaal Charles – The only different from this exact situation last week is Spencer Ware missed Wednesday’s practice which caused a little bit of a stir. He returned to a full practice on Thursday and Friday, and Jamaal Charles is still doubtful, so he will draw his second consecutive start. The price has risen considerably from $8,700 to $11,400 this week and the matchup downgraded quite a bit (Texans) as well. Bellcows are difficult to come by in the modern NFL and Ware both dominates carries and now apparently is going to factor into the passing game. In other words, this price tag is about fair whereas last week’s was an extreme bargain. Therefore, he can reasonably be rostered once again, especially in tournament formats because last week’s chalk typically ends up as this week’s contrarian. UPDATE: Charles will be inactive for Week 2.
Demaryius Thomas, Broncos – Listed as questionable, Demaryius Thomas reportedly “stood on the sideline more often than has played” at practice this week with a bad hip. There hasn’t been a lot of buzz about Thomas this week but the Broncos actually draw an excellent matchup against a Vontae Davis-less Colts defense. In fact, they are without both of their top two cornerbacks. Late in the week, a report surfaced from beat reporter Troy Renck that Thomas is on track to play. The team is being coy with his status but he sounds like a true 50/50 bet. One telling sign was that fact that Thomas said on Thursday he “ain’t gonna be feeling great” even if he suits up. If this proves to be a hip pointer injury, he could miss multiple weeks (although there are no indications of anything more than a sore hip at this time). If Sammy Watkins was any sort of indicator on Thursday, believe players when they say they are hurting…even in upper-echelon matchups. Emmanuel Sanders is the play here and Thomas can be safely avoided even if active because it sounds like he’s going to be hampered. UPDATE: Thomas will play but, again, I’m worried still.
Rob Gronkowski, Patriots – According to ESPN Patriots reporter Mike Reiss, “it wouldn’t be a surprise” if Rob Gronkowski were forced to sit out again this week. Earlier in the week it was reported that his hamstring was “certainly not 100-percent” and he is officially listed as questionable. Adam Schefter also reported that it could be a few weeks before we see his return. Although the team hasn’t officially ruled him out, there are a lot of bad omens going around. The good news is the Patriots play at 1:00pm EST on Sunday so the decision will be made on him early enough. With the entire world worried about his status, he would be an excellent contrarian play if he were to suit up. However, it sounds like the team will likely hold him out at least another week and Martellus Bennett will draw the start. QB Jimmy Garoppolo targeted Bennett five times in the opener, three of which were caught for a measly 14 yards. Still, Coach Bill Belichick heavily schemed the tight end (TE) into previous meetings against the Dolphins as Gronkowski had posted monster receiving lines of 6-113-1, 3-96-1 and 4-40-1 against the Dolphins. While not one of my top 8-9 options at the position, it’s clear Bennett has the potential to put up a TE1 day if all breaks right. If I were an odds-maker, I’d set Gronkowski at +300 to suit up (meaning the favorite is for him to sit). UPDATE: Gronkowski is inactive.
Zach Ertz, Eagles – Last but not least, Zach Ertz suffered a rib displacement injury in Week 1 and is now listed as “week-to-week.” In other words, he will likely miss at least this game, if not multiple others. While he has not officially been ruled out, he didn’t even partially participate at practice on Friday. This leaves Brent Celek to take on an expanded role as he will now receive a bulk of the targets at the position instead of being on the wrong side of the split with Ertz healthy. Ertz was targeted seven times last week to Celek’s one but Carson Wentz’s insistence in relying upon the position is encouraging. Listed at literally the minimum price any player on FantasyDraft could possibly be listed, it will not take much for Celek for hit value. On multiple occasions in the past, Celek has scored six-plus TDs, so it’s not like there isn’t a sample size on him. Facing a defense that played just about neutral against the position last year, there’s no reason to believe Celek cannot compete for the fantasy-point-per-dollar lead at the position this week. UPDATE: Ertz is inactive.